Utah DWR probes recent animal wasting cases

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is investigating a case of big game animal wasting in Morgan County that happened in the fall of 2021.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is investigating a case of big game animal wasting in Morgan County that happened in the fall of 2021. (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

MOUNTAIN GREEN, Morgan County — Utah wildlife authorities are asking for the public's help in trying to figure out who left the meat of a big game animal to waste after taking its antlers as a trophy.

Conservation officers with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources located a bull elk carcass just east of Trapper's Loop Road, about a mile north of the Trapper's Pointe Subdivision in Morgan County, in November. Authorities noted there were no indications that whoever killed the animal had attempted to extract the meat, as the four quartered pieces of the animal were still intact.

It's believed that the individual only kept skull-capped antlers of the bull elk.

During their investigation, an individual reported to them that they saw a man in a white GMC pickup truck in the area on Nov. 1. The person in the truck appeared to toss the quartered elk carcass and its head out of the bed of the truck in an area difficult to see from the roadway before leaving.

While the incident may have happened during the general bull elk season and the hunter may have legally taken the elk, authorities said Monday that leaving meat from a harvested animal to waste is also illegal.

The Morgan County case is also far from unique. The division also announced late last month it was investigating a case of a deer left for waste in Summit County. The deer carcass was found on Nov. 24 on private property along I-80 near the Wahsatch Exit. Authorities said the head of the deer was removed and the rest of the carcass was partially covered with a piece of metal in an apparent attempt to conceal the carcass.

It's unclear if the two cases are related but Jonathan Moser, a conservation officer with the agency, says both are serious because wasting meat cuts at the core principles of hunting.

"Waste of wildlife is a serious crime," he said. "Many people hunt specifically to use the meat to feed their family, so when one person completely wastes the meat and just wants a 'trophy' from the animal, it can undermine public support for hunting as a wholesome recreational activity and important wildlife management tool."

The division reported 1,153 animals illegally killed or left for waste in 2021, including 180 deer and 113 elk. Officials valued the total loss at over $600,000.

Anyone with information about either case in Morgan or Summit counties, as well as any other poaching or wasting case, is encouraged to call the division's tip line at 800-662-3337 or text 847411. People can also report a tip online or through the division's app.

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